Outstanding 2020 engineering graduates recognized

Philippe Fauchet, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering, has announced 2020 awards and honors to seniors. A special recorded video also is available on the school’s Commencement website.

Vanderbilt’s 2020 Commencement ceremonies and related events were postponed in March due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The university will hold a set of special events on campus for 2020 graduates in May 2021.

Luke David Neise of Wildwood, Missouri, is Founder’s Medalist for the School of Engineering. He is graduating as a double major in mechanical engineering and classical civilization.

The Founder’s Medal was endowed by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and signifies first honors for each graduating class from Vanderbilt’s schools. The gold medal has been awarded since 1877. The recipient is named by the dean after consideration of faculty recommendations as well as grade point averages of the year’s summa cum laude graduates.

Luke Neise

Neise’s goal is to work on the next generation of challenges in space engineering and space robotics. He has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and will begin graduate study in the aeronautics and astronautics master’s program at Stanford University. He is the son of Matt and Nikki Neise of Wildwood, Missouri.

As payload lead for the Vanderbilt Aerospace Design Laboratory, Luke experienced some of the challenges inherent to space engineering and discovered the passions that have inspired his plans for the future. With his fellow lab members, he researched and implemented a drone design for NASA to demonstrate improved planetary sample collection missions. He also helped bring the VADL mission to local schools through outreach presentations and experiments.

Neise was an undergraduate researcher in the Multiscale Computational Mechanics Laboratory, led by Caglar Oskay, professor of civil engineering and mechanical engineering. As a junior, he was awarded a Department of Defense internship with the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at the Arnold Air Force Base through the Air Force Civilian Service Premier College Intern Program. Neise also has served as president of the school’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

The distinction of Banner Bearer is awarded to the senior engineering student who has been judged by the faculty of the School of Engineering to have excelled in all aspects of his or her undergraduate career. The Master of Engineering Banner Bearer is an honor bestowed on the master’s graduate with the highest scholastic achievement.

Keegan Maguire Campanelli represents the 2020 engineering undergraduates. Matthew J. Klooster represents the master of engineering graduates.

Campanelli is graduating summa cum laude with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in computer science. He is the son of Ms. Catherine Maguire and Dr. David Campanelli of Palmyra, Virginia.


Campanelli has been an undergraduate researcher in the Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems. Work on projects there sparked an interest in microgrids, grid modernization, renewable energy and their intersection with software and cyber-physical systems. After graduation, he will be a software engineer working on middleware for the Industrial Internet of Things at Real-Time Innovations in Sunnyvale, California.

As a junior and senior, Campanelli served as president of Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility. As president, he championed SPEAR’s campaign to assist in Vanderbilt’s commitment to 100% renewable energy, which resulted in the university’s major carbon zero and renewable energy announcement in spring 2019. He also created the Sustainability Advisory Council in concert with Vanderbilt Student Government, the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office, and Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain.

Campanelli has served as a head resident adviser and he is a member of the school’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and Eta Kappa Nu, the international honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


Klooster, of Nashville, is graduating with a Master’s of Engineering degree in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management. He received a full scholarship for his master’s work from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Klooster has been on active duty for four years as part of an eight-year active duty commitment. After graduation, he will be reassigned to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he will be the project officer for a large medical clinic construction renovation. Klooster plans to continue his career in the U.S. Air Force. He is the son of Chuck and Alida Klooster of Charlevoix, Michigan.

At Vanderbilt, Klooster has served as president of the civil and environmental engineering department’s Graduate Student Council. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he received a first-place design award for a senior capstone project for Ford Motor Company.

The Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service is given to a graduating senior who has shown remarkable leadership qualities and has made the greatest contribution in personal service to the school. This year the service award goes to two recipients: Caroline Olivia Janssen and Nnamdi Chidozie Okabuonye.


Caroline Olivia Janssen has served as the president and vice president of the school’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She volunteered with the Vanderbilt Engineering Brigade where she designed a water system for a community in Honduras. In addition, Janssen conducted research as part of a team working with Array of Things sensors on campus to capture mobility and air quality data. She graduates with a degree in civil engineering and will pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at Vanderbilt. She is the daughter of Andy and Stephanie Janssen of Montgomery, Ohio.


Nnamdi Chidozie Okabuonye has served on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers for three years and as a student VUceptor for three years. He also served as president and committee chair of the MOSAIC Diversity Recruitment Program for four years and led an executive board team of 14 Vanderbilt students while collaborating with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the MOSAIC program. Okabuinye has held several internships and graduates with a degree in computer science. He will join Microsoft as a software engineer in Seattle, Washington. He is the son of Romanus and Eucharia Okabuonye of South Holland, Illinois.

Dean Fauchet recognized 18 students who have exemplified the highest degree of scholarship and have achieved summa cum laude distinction:

Jorie Donna Budzikowski, Wheaton, Illinois
Matthew Prasad Burruss, Louisville, Kentucky
Keegan Maguire Campanelli, Palmyra, Virginia
Kendall Helene Derry, Fair Oaks, California
James Alexander Dohm, Beverly Hills, California
William Henry Hellman, Louisville, Kentucky
Canwen Jiao, Nanjing, China
Emre Kanli, Istanbul, Turkey
Haoyu Li, Beijing, China
Timothy Liang, Germantown, Tennessee
Allen Joseph Luna, Centerville, Ohio
Luke David Neise, Wildwood, Missouri
Dalton Jay Nelson, Platte City, Missouri
Swapnil Pande, Chantilly, Virginia
Stephanie Pellegrino, Brookfield, Connecticut
Ayush Sangari, Sunnyvale, California
Hansen Wu, North Haven, Connecticut
Yunxi Xiong, Chongqing, China
Yufei Yan, Nanjing, China
Juecen Zhan, Nanjing, China

Other awards and honors

Program awards go to seniors who, in the opinion of the program faculty, made the greatest progress in professional development during their undergraduate careers. The recipients are:

Biomedical Engineering: Dalton Jay Nelson, Platte City, Missouri
Chemical Engineering: James Alexander Dohm, Beverly Hills, California
Civil Engineering: William James Harlow, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma
Computer Engineering: Matthew Prasad Burruss, Louisville, Kentucky
Computer Science: Yufei Yan, Nanjing, China
Electrical Engineering: Emre Kanli, Istanbul, Turkey
Engineering Science: Nathan Aaron Wasserman, Miami, Florida
Mechanical Engineering: Luke David Neise, Wildwood, Missouri

Noah Christopher Popham, Louisville, Kentucky, received the Wilson and Nellie Pyle Miser Award, which is given to the senior who has excelled in all aspects of mathematics during the student’s undergraduate career.

Kendall Helene Derry, Fair Oaks, California, received the Stein Stone Memorial Award, which is given to a senior who has earned a letter in sports and who is judged to have made the most satisfactory scholastic and extra-mural progress as an undergraduate.

The Arthur J. Dyer Jr. Memorial Prize is awarded to a senior who has done the best work in the study and/or design in use of structural steel, and who is a member of the American Society for Civil Engineers. The recipient is William Henry Hellman, Louisville, Kentucky.

The Greg A. Andrews Civil Engineering Memorial Award goes to an exemplary senior who plans to do graduate work in environmental and water resources engineering. The recipient is Nathan Scott Miller, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Walter Gill Kirkpatrick Prize in Civil Engineering is given to the most deserving third-year student majoring in civil engineering. The recipient is Matthew Michael Sato, Twin Falls, Idaho

The Thomas G. Arnold Prizes for Biomedical Engineering Systems Design and Research is awarded to the senior who presents the best design of a biomedical engineering system, and the senior who presents the best research project in the application of engineering to a significant problem in biomedical science or clinical medicine. The Arnold Prize is shared by:

  • Research— Jorie Donna Budzikowski, Wheaton, Illinois; Stephanie Molitor, Erie, Colorado; Madelyn Marie Schmall, Chanhassen, Minnesota; Kathryn Lynn Ufford, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and Rachel Elizabeth Welscott, Clearwater, Florida.
  • Design—Tejas Subramanian, Acton, Massachusetts.

Robert Andrew Feitel, Panama City, Florida, and Jonah Ross Levine, Houston, Texas, are recipients of the American Institute of Chemists Award, given on the basis of leadership, ability, character, scholastic achievement and potential for advancement in the chemical professions.

The W. Dennis Threadgill Award is given for outstanding achievement in chemical engineering in honor of a former faculty member and department chair. The award is shared by Hannah Riley Knight, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and David Benjamin Blum, Naples, Florida.

The Robert D. Tanner Undergraduate Research Award is given to a senior who has conducted the best undergraduate research project in chemical engineering. The recipient is Dinh Chuong Nguyen, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

The Walter Criley Prize is awarded for the best paper written on an advanced senior project in electrical engineering. The award is shared by Rosalia Brooks, Clarksville, Tennessee; Eleanor Elizabeth Burch, Simpsonville, South Carolina; Madeline Sgro, Orange Park, Florida; John Mark Goeke, Racine, Wisconsin; and Samuel Martin Gottlieb, Grand Blanc, Michigan.

The William A. Ma Award is given to an outstanding senior majoring in chemical engineering on the basis of a demonstrated record of leadership and scholastic achievement. The recipient is by James Alexander Dohm, Beverly Hills, California

Contact: Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314